Teams that are standing at the top of the podium at the end of the season are usually the ones who are able to stay levelheaded and provide damage control after a loss. If that is true, then the men’s tennis team looks to go far in the postseason this year, preventing a losing streak from building last weekend with a 6-3 road victory over 25th-nationally-ranked Colby.
“Different people took different attitudes into the match,” wrote Captain Sam Rudovsky ’16 in an email to the Argus. “Some played angry while others felt loose now that we had gotten the bad match out of our system. Each player channeled a different type of energy but as a team we really came together when it mattered.”
“The team battled very well today,” wrote Head Coach Michael Fried in an email to the Argus. “We didn’t play perfect tennis by any means, but we battled and fought and found a way to win. I’m proud of our mental toughness, as I thought it was the difference in the match.”
Rudovsky shined brightest for the Cardinals this past Sunday after securing two points. He first teamed up with Jake Roberts ’17 at second doubles as the two guided Wesleyan to a 9-7 victory. The pair has synced well together this spring; they have a perfect 9-0 record so far in 2014.
“The Colby team actually served for the match at 7-6,” Rudovsky wrote. “Assistant Coach [Matt] Coyne came over to our court and really gave Jake and I a ‘one point at a time’ mentality. He was a calming presence and we went on to win 12 of the next 13 points and take the match 9-7.”
Rudovsky continued his success at third singles, where he cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 victory. The win was a good sign for one of the Redbirds’ leaders, as he had lost his last five singles matches.
“The courts were similar to those at Wes and I really felt at home against my opponent,” Rudovsky wrote. “I was able to exploit his weaknesses and stay aggressive.”
Michael King, a second year player, also collected two points for the Cardinals in Maine. King played third doubles alongside Michael Liu ’17 and the two were able to down their opponents by a score of 8-6. The duo has played well so far in NESCAC play, owning a record of 3-1.
“The main thing that Mike Liu and I have improved on is our strategies on our service games, which has made it much easier to hold serve,” King wrote in an email to the Argus. “We’ve been playing a lot of I-formation on my serve, and Mike Liu’s quickness at the net has been of much use in that formation, allowing me to hold serve much more.”
The ball kept rolling for Wesleyan as King won a tight match at fifth singles. After winning the first set 6-3, he failed to close out the match in straight sets and lost the second set in a tiebreak, 6-7. Despite the disappointment, King showed his resilience and was able to claim the match after winning 10-4 in the deciding pro-set.
“When I dropped the second set after having three match points, I just kept reminding myself that the fact that I had three match points meant that if I just kept playing the same way I was playing, I would be fine,” King wrote. “The kid had a huge forehand, but I knew that if I just kept grinding, I would be fine. So I remained very relaxed and confident. I closed it out by hitting two aces to win the tiebreaker 10-4, which felt very nice.”
Despite having two close calls, King believed that he was always in control as long as he played to his strengths.
“To be honest, the entire time I was very confident that I was going to win,” King wrote. “I knew that our game in doubles and my game in singles were better than that of our opponent’s, and so I was never that worried, which was nice.”
King was not the only Wesleyan player to showcase his determination after facing adversity. Captain Stephen Monk ’15 lost the first set 1-6 at fourth singles, with his opponent winning handily. Monk was able to gather himself and win the next two sets convincingly, 6-2, 6-2.
“It was a great comeback by Stephen,” Fried wrote. “He was really struggling to find the right game plan early on, but we talked about it after the first set; he settled into what we thought was the most effective strategy and executed it extremely well.”
Zacko Brint ’16 obtained the final point of the day for the Cardinals, winning in straight sets over Cameron Hillier at sixth singles. Although Brint won in two sets, the victory did not come easily, as he squeaked by with a 6-4, 6-4 result.
The players credit their coaches for their huge successes last weekend.
“Coach Fried and Coach Milo were integral this entire week in getting us back on a successful path,” Rudovsky wrote. “They played a huge role in the team win today.”
The team will be eager to get back into action after playing so effectively this past weekend. Next up on the schedule for the Cardinals will be their interstate rivals, Trinity.
“Clearly it gives us a great deal of confidence,” Rudovsky wrote. “Trinity is going to be extremely tough but I think we can build off of today’s win and carry it over into Thursday’s match.”
The Bantams will travel to Middletown on Thursday, April 10 to challenge the Redbirds.
“Trinity will be a tough one, but I think that we have the talent, depth, and desire to pull it out,” King wrote. “Trinity will be one of the biggest matches of the season for us, and for that reason, I think that our entire team is going to go into the match extremely fired up, which should lead to a victory. Prediction: 6-3 Wes.”